Preserving Recipes/ Spring

Chili Sauce, Eh?!

Chili Sauce

The mere mention of chili sauce in the last article sparked a lively conversation about our favorite condiment. Last summer I was scouring my preserving cookbooks and noticed there were no chili sauce recipes in any of my American books. I took to the internet and again found no recipes. Turns out, chili sauce as we know it, is as Canadian as poutine, back bacon, and Caesars.

References to chili sauce often refer to sauce made with hot chilies, something we call hot sauce, which has been around for 9 thousand years and embraced by most cultures around the world. But the chili sauce we mean has a quiet almost illusive history. The Culinary Historians of Canada published an article in 2010 titled “Ode to Chili Sauce”. After reviewing many North American cookbooks, the author concluded that chili sauce is indeed a Canadian phenomenon. I did find one reference to chili sauce in Maryland during the mid 19th century, likely being exported from Canada. It was introduced to “jazz up the winter menus of Yankees” (Maryland Food History News). Still chili sauce never made its way into celebrated American cookbooks.

For we Canadians, chili sauce refers to a condiment made of chopped tomatoes with vegetables like onions, celery, and peppers, sweetened with brown or white sugar, given a tang with white or apple cider vinegar and slow-cooked and infused with spices. Whether you like it sweet, or hot, In the end, all chili sauce is amazing with meat or slathered on eggs.

I have made many recipes for chili sauce but last summer I used Bernardin’s recipe. It is bright in taste and not too sweet with just the right heat. It is possible to use tinned tomatoes, fresh and blanched tomatoes or frozen (no blanching required as the skins pop off after freezing). These options mean you can make chili sauce the whole year through!

Thanks for sharing your chili sauce stories!

Chili Sauce Yield 7 x 250ml jars

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  • 12 cups chopped, seeded, cored tomatoes (2.7 kg); drain away excess liquid and then measure
  • 2 cups each chopped onions and green peppers
  • 1 cup chopped red peppers
  • 2 TBSP jalapeno peppers minced
  • 1.5 cups white vinegar
  • 1.5 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp pickling salt
  • Spice bag made of: 4 inch piece cinnamon, one bay leaf, 2 tsp mustard seed, 1 tsp celery seed, ½ tsp each of whole cloves, black peppercorns
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • ½ tsp ground ginger and ground nutmeg



Combine tomatoes, peppers, onions, vinegar, sugar, and salt in large pan. Prepare spice bag using cheesecloth and tied with string. Place in tomato mixture securing the string to the side of the pan. Bring to a boil, stirring regularly. Boil for about 2 hours until reduced by about half. Stir in garlic, ginger, and nutmeg during last 15 minutes of cooking.


Ladle into hot jars, removing air bubbles and leaving a ½ inch headspace. Wipe jar rim clean and affix lids and rings tightening to “finger-tip” tight. Process in boiling water bath or atmospheric steam canner for 15 minutes adjusting for altitude. Let rest 5 minutes in canner. Remove jars to heat proof surface and allow them to cool for 24 hours.



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